Today in San Francisco, groups gathered outside St. Patrick’s Church to demand a halt to US military expansion on the Pacific island of Guam.Their voices echoed recent EPA concerns that the Department of Defense’s plan will have devastating impact on 71 acres of coral reef and fails to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.
At a time of economic recession and mounting national debt, the US base expansion on Guam will be one of the largest buildups in recent history, costing US taxpayers an estimated $9 Billion. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave the plan the worst possible rating, calling it “inadequate” and stated the impacts of dredging on the high quality coral reefs of Apra Harbor “are of sufficient magnitude that EPA believes the action should not proceed as proposed.” The proposed build up would also bring 79,000 more people to Guam, increasing the population of 173,456 by 47%.
“Our communities in Guam are counting on us to be a voice for them in Washington,” says Erica Benton, who has family ties to Guam and is a member of Famoksaiyan, a group which voices concerns for Guam and Chamorros in the diaspora. “The island is an unincorporated territory of the US, which basically means they cannot vote for US presidents and only have a non-voting delegate in Congress. We hope our leaders here in California take a stand with us, and for the environment.”
“This Earth Day, we have to address that the military is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, and the largest contributor to greenhouse gases,” says Reverend Deborah Lee, a member of Women for Genuine Security, the local chapter of a global women’s network that works to protect the health and safety of communities around US military bases. “The US military has an enormous carbon footprint which must be addressed for the health of local communities and the security of our entire planet.”